Sunday, August 20, 2017

"One-Of-A-Kind" --- the Walther 9mm Ultra pistol, developed on an experimental basis by Walther, for the Luftwaffe, in 1939/1940.

The intent of this design was to manufacture a pistol that retained the compact aspects of the PPK/PP design but employed a far more powerful cartridge than the 9mm Kurz round but less powerful than the standard 9mm Parabellum cartridge.

The design of this pistol was based somewhat on the proven Walther PPK/PP. However it employed some “all of its own” features only found on this pistol. Due to the higher velocity and pressure of the 9mm Ultra round, it required actual locking lugs on the sides of barrel. These locking lugs mated with a corresponding internal raceway/locking recesses inside the slide. 



These internal slide raceways necessitated a shortened slide, as shown, which also resulted in a different barrel configuration which resembles a P38 design.




Another unique feature is that there is a spring loaded, slide accelerator mounted on the left side of the frame under the grip panel. This was required since the slide was shortened, that reduced the mass of the slide which requires the accelerator to drive the slide forward, rotating the barrel into the forward position and locking it in place, very innovative for a late 1939/40 designed pistol.

The pistol still ejects to the right, however the takedown procedure is different than the PPK/PP as there is a cross-pin through the frame which holds the trigger guard in place. These mechanical features were revolutionary and set it apart from any previous Walther design even today. The pistol has no visible markings, including no serial number.



This is the only one known example of this unique and historically innovative Walther pistol.

Sources and references from; "Walther Volume III" by James L. Rankin, "The P.38 Pistol, Volume III" by Warren Buxton, "Walther The Deutsche Legend" by Manfred Kersten and others.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

1864 Springfield "Side-Door"

   

This is one unique breech loading conversion of a 1864 U.S. Springfield rifle.
The origin is unknown, it has 1864 dates on the barrel and lock plate but no markings on the breechblock.

The rifle underwent a post-Civil War conversion to a .58 caliber rimfire via an unfamiliar mechanism that bears resemblances to the Needham conversion (side-mount configuration, unlocked breech secured by falling hammer).
Unfortunately it is another one of those firearms whose provenance has been lost in time.





Could this have been a Bridesburg Needham prototype?
1861 Bridesburg Needham.jpg
Bridesburg Needham Conversion

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Ehlers Paterson Revolvers




In 1842, Samuel Colt's Patent Arms Manufacturing Co. went into bankruptcy. Effects of the 1837 depression, lost faith among shareholders, an inter-company struggle between Colt and company treasurer John Ehlers were all factors that caused the company, Patent Arms Mfg. Co. to fail.
Ehlers, who was one of the earliest investors in Patent Arms, purchased the company and inventory at auction. 
Numbers vary but an estimated 536 incomplete Colt Paterson No. 1 and No. 2 revolvers were included. 

Ehlers completed an unknown number of Paterson No. 2 revolvers, which are sometimes referred to as "Fifth Model Ehlers"





Distinctive Ehler's features include a 1 1/16 inch long round back five-shot cylinder with hand-engaged ratcheted teeth at the back, a recoil shield capping cut-out on the right side of the frame, a hammer with knurled spur, and barrel markings that lack the "M'g Co" found on Colt manufactured Paterson revolvers.








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Thursday, August 10, 2017

“They Make All Kinds” certainly applies to this unique and unidentified European(?) prototype "Zig-Zag" style revolver.



Except for the action, the revolver's design is indicative of 19th century European influence: part octagon barrel, 11mm caliber, fixed sights (dovetailed pinched front sight with bead and notched rear sight on the recoil shield), open top frame, contoured barrel lug and humpback back strap and grips. The design reminds one of the revolvers by Raphael and Perrin.

The action is another matter and is unusual to say the least, but displays the craftsmanship of a master gunsmith and suggests that it is an experimental revolver.
Cocking the firearm requires the operator to pull back on a knob located ahead of the trigger. Pulling back on the knob rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer. The rebated cylinder rotates via a zig zag type mechanical motion, and the hammer slides horizontally in the frame.




The grip frame and trigger guard are contoured for the operator to be able to use one hand when pulling back on the cocking knob with his pointer finger and then pulling the trigger. The centerfire firing pin is adjustable with the rear section threaded. 




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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Experimental Springfield Armory 1873 Trapdoor, chambered in 30-40.



In the early 1880s, several countries were developing a new, high velocity cartridges with lighter bullets fueled with the new improved "smokeless powders". Not to be left behind, the Chief of the U.S. Ordnance, charged Frankfort Arsenal and Springfield Armory for the development of a new magazine rifle using a cartridge with this new smokeless powder.

While waiting for the new rifle to be created they chose the standard U.S. Model 1873 Trapdoor rifle as a cartridge test bed, however it was deemed too weak to handle the pressures generated by a new cartridge. Consequently Springfield embarked on a massive redesign of the receiver to accommodate this development work. It is estimated that only 45 of these rifles were ever produced in total with an additional 20 different barrels manufactured with varying designs and barrel steels. These tests ran from 1890 to as late as 1895, with most work being done in the 1891/92 time frame.


Some of the unique features of these rifles are as follows: 1) .30 caliber barrel, 2) short top handguard, measuring approximately 5 3/8 inches with the double handguard clips on the underside, 3) short 1884 Buffington rear sight with no markings, 4) unmarked, reinforced, breechblock with the positive cam/locking latch, small tip firing pin, 5) a redesigned extractor intended for the new cartridge, 6) reinforced straight sided receiver that measures 1 1/8 inch across the width of the receiver, 7) redesigned one-piece trigger guard 8) redesigned stock for the smaller diameter barrel.

Most of these rifles and barrels were either consumed in testing or cannibalized after the initial work was completed, or just destroyed. These rifles were all considered as experimental models and went through numerous design and engineering changes to be able to accommodate the new improved high velocity.

The entire experiment proved to be a futile effort on the part of the Chief of the Ordnance Board, as the old trapdoor design was no match for the new improved "bolt action" rifles.

Currently there are only nine rifles still identified in existence with four of them in museums and five in private collections.
These rifles were extensively written up on pages 199-212, in the excellent book "The 45-70 Springfield" by Frasca & Hill. 








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Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Smith & Wesson "Mexican Model".


In 1876, Smith & Wesson debuted their first .38 caliber revolvers. Chambered in .38 S&W. Then in 1878 an improved 2nd Model followed in 1891 with their 3rd Model.

The third model of the 38 Single Action was made from 1891 to 1911 and is often known as the 1891 Model, Model 01 or the Model of 91. This version saw Smith abandon the spur trigger and replaced it with a standard trigger and trigger guard.



However, an estimated 2000 of the Model of 91 revolvers, like the one pictured here, were produced using the spur trigger. The majority of these are said to have been shipped to the Mexican government and are referred to, by collectors, as the "Mexican Model".


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